Premiere Pro Export AVI-None vs Quicktime-PNG Huge File Size Difference
We want to create a master file for a 15 minute short film, which would be stored and probably used in future as the mother file to output into any other format. We are on a PC. Now in most forums people are suggesting 1) Quicktime - PNG for mac users and 2) AVI - NONE for PC users. Just to test, we did both. Now while the QUICKTIME PNG (MOV) file is of 32 gb, the AVI-NONE file is around 120 gb!! Now we would obviously want to save some hard disk space. Now my question is 1) Is there any considerable quality difference between the two? 2) If not, then what prevents people from keeping Quicktime-PNG master file on a PC? It seems to work fine with premiere.
Also a few other people are suggesting cineform. Is it free? Is it lossless? Please help us out here.
[Ayan Banerjee] "1) Quicktime - PNG for mac users and 2) AVI - NONE for PC users... 1) Is there any considerable quality difference between the two?"
QuickTime PNG and AVI None are both lossless, but QuickTime PNG is compressed and AVI None is not. You are trading disk space for encode/decode complexity. QuickTime PNG is smaller on-disk, but encoding or decoding it requires a lot of CPU power and you might not be able to do it in realtime. AVI None requires no real computation to encode or decode, but it requires a lot of space and high bandwidth to play back in real time.
[Ayan Banerjee] "2) If not, then what prevents people from keeping Quicktime-PNG master file on a PC? It seems to work fine with premiere."
Other than the reliance on QuickTime, nothing. Apple has ended support for QuickTime on Windows, but Adobe is providing limited support for QuickTime directly in the DVA apps, including the native ability to read QuickTime PNG:
[Ayan Banerjee] "Also a few other people are suggesting cineform. Is it free? Is it lossless? Please help us out here."
CineForm is a lightly-compressed "visually lossless" codec, comparable in some ways to Apple ProRes. Support for CineForm is included with Creative Cloud. So is support for Avid's lightly-compressed DNxHD/DNxHR codecs.
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Walter thanks for the detailed answer. What I get is, since Apple will no longer support Quicktime on Windows, and Adobe's native Quicktime support is only for CC version (we use CS6 and are not keen on upgrading to cloud) it is better to remove dependencies on Quicktime, and use AVI. But that in turn raises a few questions.
1) Why do people all over the internet keep calling AVI a dead format? Would it be somehow unwise to store archival footage as AVI-NONE then?
2) Is QT required to work with Canon DSLR Footage in P-Pro CS6? (Since Canon Dslr footage has .mov extension, and we shoot with a 7D). If so then I guess all PC users with CS6 would be forced to continue with the vulnerable unsupported QT as long as they own a Canon Dlsr.
3) Since we shoot our videos in Canon 7D, our captured footage are already mov files (with h264 codec). Does it make sense to output huge AVI Uncompressed as master footage for storage? I mean are not we just trying to convert already lossy footage to lossless one? Is it better to just select the 'Match sequence settings option' in Media Encoder?
After carefully crafting and posting a response a few minutes ago...it vanished into the ether...I don't know where it went! So here goes again!!
If you run your own shop using all PCs, and do not need to share/collaborate with other editors using Macs, then there is nothing wrong with using AVI in your own workflow. However, do not use Uncompressed (the NONE option) - the file sizes are totally unmanageable, and since your DSLR source material was so highly compressed to start with, there is nothing to gain by bloating the file size.
With CS6, you have a few different options for high-quality .avi intermediate codecs. Lagarith and UT are both free downloads. Files are mathematically lossless I believe (I used Lagarith for some workflows). Another option I had used with CS6 was to download and install the free GoPro Studio application, which would install the Cineform codec which is highly regarded.
The issue with QuickTime on a PC is not the codec itself, but rather is the PLAYER. You can install the codec and opt out of installing the player, and that should work just fine then, no worries. With CS6, you could download the Avid DNxHD codec, which is quite similar to Apple ProRes in quality and file size. I should note that both Cineform and DNxHD are now included with Premiere CC (as .mov and .mxf formats respectively).
You are correct that there is no benefit to exporting uncompressed when the source material was very highly compressed H.264 material. Nothing to gain. Just use a good intermediate codec, excellent quality without the bloated file sizes.
Never use "Match Sequence Settings" when exporting. Some users think this will export to the exact same format they started with, such as XDCAM, AVCHD, or whatever, but that is not really the case. The camera formats are very compressed and lossy, so you would not want to "master" to that format anyway. Rather, take charge and manually select a good export codec yourself and do not trust automatic settings, as you never know what to expect from that.
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Thanks Jeff. Yeah that vanishing thing is very frustrating. It made me get into the habit of copying the post before hitting the Button.
I do not need to collaborate with Mac users, but I was wondering since I shoot with dslrs which produce footage in .mov container, would they be identified and imported in Ppro CS6, if I remove QT from my PC ?
I am very interested in trying out Cineform(I thought it was not free) and/or DnxHD. But are they dependent on QT? (I am asking this because you say Cineform comes in mov container)
Lastly regarding your statement "The issue with QuickTime on a PC is not the codec itself, but rather is the PLAYER. "
I am a little confused here. I had the idea that QT was only required for supporting files with mov container. When you say codec, what do you exactly mean? I know prores is not an option in PC. I am probably being a noob here, but I thought codecs inside mov (like h264,PNG, etc) do not require QT?
When I used CS6, and had installed GoPro Studio, I then had the Cineform codec available in both the .avi and .mov formats. I don't know if current GoPro software download still offers the same, could've changed maybe.
My reference to Cineform being .mov format is with Premiere CC - Cineform is now included by Adobe, but only as .mov and not .avi
To play or edit any video clip on your computer, your machine must have the codec installed to read that file. Codec stands for COmpress and DECompress. To write and read the files, the codec tells the computer how to do it.
I guess that's different than .avi or .mov which are containers, but I believe to play ANY .mov file, QuickTime needs to be installed. On top of that then, you still need whatever codec that is inside the .mov container (like Cineform or DNxHD codecs).
When installing the "QuickTime" package from Apple on your PC, you should have the option to install ONLY QuickTime, or to also install the QuickTime Player. You'll want to skip the Player install - that is the part that is subject to hacking, not QuickTime itself. Hope that makes sense. Or maybe don't worry about it, this stuff gets blown all of of proportion. The only way for the Player issue to bite you is if you download and play an infected .mov file. If you are not doing that, then I don't think there is anything to be concerned about. I could be wrong, that's my understanding of the situation.
But in any case, many many users report that after they create files with Adobe then watch them with QuickTime Player, the colors have changed so not recommended to even use it, has a known issue/bug. Use VLC Media Player instead.
Back to Lagarith for instance, if you simply download and run Lagarith, the codec is then installed. In Media Encoder, choose AVI as the format, then down lower in the export settings panel you can open the drop-down for codecs and you will now see Lagarith and can encode to it. Be warned the files are pretty big - much smaller than uncompressed, but certainly larger than Cineform or DNxHD for instance. Maybe not an issue for short videos, but some of mine are 2 hours long and that is a few hundred GB perhaps!
Here's the link for free GoPro Studio. Download and install and that will provide Cineform codec for CS6.
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Link for Lagarith Installer - https://lags.leetcode.net/codec.html
Lagarith makes a really nice master file, from which one can later export to any other format needed. But again - BIG files - maybe test against Cineform and compare results for both quality and file size.
Just remembered this blog post I created a few years ago which might be helpful to read - http://blog.sharbor.com/blog/2014/06/mezzanine-codec-options-for-pc-video-e...
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Hey Jeff Thanks for the links. And that is an ABSOLUTE FANTASTIC article. I wish I came across that before, because I already completed color correction of my short film in Davinci Resolve, using the original footage (mov 420) from the camera. Now I know I should have had converted into some form of intermediate codec. But I guess it is never too late to learn.
As far as archival is concerned, now I have narrowed it down to 4 options.
Lagarith, Quicktime(PNG), Cineform or DNXHD-mxf.
I did a lot of googling today and saw a few people suggest against 8bit archivals. To bother you one last time I was wondering if I would benefit from a 10bit archival, given my camera footage is 8bit. QT PNG is 8 bit. When I use AVI -None Uncompressed export, it is exported 8bit like the original footage. As you and Walter have mentioned this is totally lossless, so I wonder if a 10bit archival would provide me with anything better.
Do Lagarith, Cineform and DnxHd have 8bit and 10bit variations? If so would you suggest 8 or 10bit archival for 8bit dslr footage?
I've never used QT PNG in my lifetime. Ever. I think that might be a decent format for perhaps exporting an animation out of After Effects, where you want to keep every bit of color and alpha channel goodness for your edit, similar to uncompressed. I can't see exporting entire videos in that format. The idea is that if you CREATE graphics/animations from scratch in AE, then those have never seen compression, so maybe you want to keep them uncompressed to get very best results in compositing/keying. But for video that started life as highly compressed, nothing to gain from an uncompressed format. I'd scratch that from the list.
I don't want to claim to be something I'm not, which is a professional colorist. Been making videos since 1992 and have a fair amount on experience and knowledge, but "high end" video/film is not my background. More corporate, weddings, stage events. That means I've not worked with really high-end gear or workflows.
That said, let me explain 8-bit vs. 10-bit a little. Computers use bits and bytes to store data. A byte is 8 bits. Each bit can have a value of 0 or 1. https://web.stanford.edu/class/cs101/bits-bytes.html
Most camcorders record using 8-bit color. The largest value you can have with 8 bits is 256. If you ever play with the color sliders in Photoshop, you will find that the brightness or color slider can go from 0-255 (256 options). You have Red, Green, and Blue sliders, so 256x256x256. That is how many different colors total you would have in your palette with an 8-bit codec.
With 10 bit, the highest value is 1024 for each of the R, G, B colors, so 1024x1024x1024. Quite a huge difference!! With an 8-bit video clip, you might see banding in a blue sky since there are not enough different shades of blue available to make smooth transitions from one shade to another. 10 bit fixes that, IF the camera can record the video using 10 bit color. My friend has a Sony X70 camcorder that can record 10-bit 4:2:2 color and results are gorgeous! My cameras all use 8-bit 4:2:0 (not so gorgeous).
Watch the "Ask Alex" video at this link, just found it and it explains Color Space the best way I've ever seen! - http://crewofone.com/2012/chroma-subsampling-and-transcoding/#comment-7299
As far as I know, DSLR video is usually is 8-bit 4:2:0, so I don't know what the advantage of saving as 10-bit would be - you can't replace the missing color information that was never there to start with. Maybe someone can explain if I have that wrong? I do understand that if for instance some graphics and such were added in Premiere (which were not previously compressed) that saving in a higher-quality format would preserve more quality in those areas, but again, can't make the video content portion better than it was.
I know some of the Adobe color effects use "deep color" and perhaps - maybe - if you apply those to your 8-bit footage, and then export as 10-bit, perhaps there is an advantage? That is what I need someone to explain to me if that is the case, I just don't know, out of my realm so to speak.
So you might say "Jeff, if I can't make the video better and it started as H.264, why not archive as H.264 then?"
Simple answer - H.264 uses heavy compression, and every time you re-compress your video, you add artifacts and lose quality. More averaging together of pixels and colors, more data tossed out in the name of efficiency. Yes, the original video was compressed, but if you save the edited version with a "lossless" format like Lagarith, you really lose nothing further when exporting - quality remains at current level, good as it can be based on what you started with. Certainly no worse though.
Of course, you can always deliver as H.264, for instance for web or Blu-ray, that's fine. Just saying, don't create your archive/master in such a compressed format. Find a good compromise between that and uncompressed, a middle ground with a balance of quality and file size.
I could go on, but that's a lot to think about for now, definitely check out the links and video, good stuff there.
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Thank you so much Jeff. I know about the bit byte mathematics, but am a total novice about the industry practices and standard export scenarios. Thanks to you and Walter, things seem less blurry now. Suddenly my motherboard broke yesterday. Lucky it is still under warranty. Once it gets serviced, I would try out your suggested export options one by one hands on. Thanks again.